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Health Highlights: March 28, 2019

Last Updated: March 28, 2019.

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

New First-Line Treatment for Severe Malaria in U.S.

The drug artesunate -- the World Health Organization-recommended first-line treatment for severe malaria -- will become the first-line treatment for severe malaria in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says in a new guidance to health care providers.

It marks a change in U.S. treatment protocol that became necessary after the only Food and Drug Administration-approved intravenous (IV) antimalarial drug in the U.S. -- quinidine -- was discontinued by the maker and will no longer be available.

Currently, artesunate is not FDA approved or commercially available in the U.S., so the CDC will use a special FDA regulatory measure to ensure that IV artesunate is available for treatment of severe malaria.

Starting April 1, health care providers must call CDC's Malaria Hotline (770-488-7788) to obtain the IV artesunate. After a CDC expert confirms that IV artesunate is needed, the drug will be released free of charge to the CDC quarantine station closest to the requesting hospital, which can pick the drug up at the station.

CDC is stocking artesunate at 10 quarantine stations and will work with the stations and hospitals to ensure swift delivery of the drug. There will be a sufficient supply of IV artesunate for treatment of all cases of severe malaria in the U.S., according to the CDC.

In 2017, there were about 219 million cases of malaria worldwide and 435,000 deaths. Each year, an average of 1,700 travelers to countries where malaria is common return to the U.S. with malaria, and that number is on the rise. Of those, about 300 people return to the U.S. with severe malaria, the CDC said.


Woman With 2 Wombs Has Twins 26 Days After Birth of First Child

A Bangladeshi women with two wombs gave birth to twins, 26 days after giving birth to her first child.

Arifa Sultana, 20, gave birth to a boy in late February, said Dr. Sheila Poddar, a gynecologist at Ad-Din hospital in Dhaka, CNN reported.

After that normal delivery, the mother and baby were released from a different Dhaka hospital. Less than four weeks later, she was admitted to Ad-Din hospital.

"She came to the hospital complaining of lower abdominal pain," said Poddar, CNN reported.

An ultrasound revealed that Sultana was pregnant with twins. Poddar performed a cesarean section to deliver the twins, a boy and girl. All three children are healthy.

Sultana's first baby and the twins were conceived and grown in her two separate wombs. Sultana did not get an ultrasound before her first delivery.

"It is not very common to have two uteruses. When the uterus develops, it comes from two tubes and those tubes fuse together. For some women, the fusion does not occur and the dividing wall does not dissolve," said Dr. S.N. Basu, head of obstetrics and gynecology at Max Healthcare hospital in New Delhi, CNN reported.


California Man Awarded $80 Million in Roundup Lawsuit

A California man who said that Monsanto's weed killer Roundup caused his cancer was awarded $80 million in damages by a jury in San Francisco on Wednesday.

The same six-person jury previously found that Roundup was a significant factor in Edwin Hardeman's non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, the Associated Press reported.

Hardeman, 70, said in his lawsuit against Monsanto that he used Roundup products to treat poison oak, overgrowth and weeds on his San Francisco Bay Area property for years.

Monsanto says studies have shown that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is safe and said it plans to appeal, the AP reported.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says glyphosate is safe for people when used in accordance with label directions, according to the news service.

In August, a different jury awarded another man $289 million in a Roundup-related lawsuit, but a judge later cut that to $78 million. Monsanto has appealed that case.

Hardeman's lawsuit may be more important than that previous case because U.S. Judge Vince Chhabria, who is overseeing hundreds of Roundup lawsuits, considers Hardeman's case and two others "bellwether trials," the AP reported.

That means the results of those cases could influence lawyers' decision about continuing to pursue similar lawsuits or settling them.


Walgreens to Sell CBD Products

CBD creams, patches and sprays will be sold in nearly 1,500 Walgreens stores, the company said Wednesday.

Last week, CVS announced that some of its stores will sell similar cannabis-based products, USA Today reported.

Walgreens will sell the CBD products in Oregon, Colorado, New Mexico, Kentucky, Tennessee, Vermont, South Carolina, Illinois and Indiana, according to CNBC.

CBD is a hemp-derived, non-psychoactive cannabidiol that is becoming increasingly mainstream, USA Today reported.


Air Pollution May be Linked With Psychotic Experiences in Teens: Study

There may be a link between air pollution and psychotic experiences in teens, according to a new study.

Researchers analyzed data gathered from more than 2,000 teens in Wales and England. They found that those exposed to the highest levels of three air pollutants -- nitrogen dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter -- were 71 percent, 72 percent and 45 percent more likely, respectively, to report psychotic experiences than those exposed to the lowest levels of the pollutants, CNN reported.

And the odds of having a psychotic episode "gradually increase as you move from rural to suburb to urban settings," noted study lead author Joanne Newbury, a postdoctoral researcher at King's College London. Teens in the "most urban settings" had "94 percent greater odds of psychotic experiences compared to those living in rural settings," she said.

Study co-author Helen Fisher, a reader of developmental psychopathology at King's College London, said that "when we talk about psychotic experiences, we are talking about people who are experiencing things like hearing or seeing things other people don't or feeling very paranoid," CNN reported.

The study was published March 27 in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

"One of the most consistent findings over the past few decades has been a link between cities and psychosis," Newbury said. "Children who are born and raised in urban versus rural settings are almost twice as likely to develop psychosis in adulthood."

She noted that the study does not show a cause-and-effect relationship but an association between air pollution and psychosis, CNN reported.

The study is "nice" but lacks rigor, according to Dr. Jim van Os, a professor and head of the Brain Division at University Medical Center Utrecht, the Netherlands. He was not involved in the study.

At best, it is "a hypothesis to examine in future work," he wrote in an email, CNN reported.

There "is more work that needs to be done with this study," Sophie Dix, a cognitive researcher and director of research at MQ, a nonprofit that funds mental health research, told the Science Media Center.

"There is no evidence that pollution necessarily causes psychosis or whether this is one of many factors or acting in isolation," said Dix, who was not involved in the study, CNN reported.

"There is a bigger picture here, but that does not diminish the importance of these findings and the potential that comes from this," Dix said.

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